Tim Anderson, AIDS Advocacy Network Co-Chair
On November 8th, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called on the world to commit to ushering in an AIDS-free generation. Recent scientific evidence has raised new hope that the end of the AIDS epidemic may be just around the corner. Unfortunately, her remarks failed to make the concrete funding commitment and treatment target necessary to end the epidemic.
In August, the results of the US-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 study showed early treatment of HIV cuts the risk of transmission by 96 percent – more effective than condoms. Another study showed that voluntary male circumcision could decrease transmission by over 60 percent. These studies offered hope to physicians and patients that the debate over funding treatment or prevention would be over and finally a strong commitment would be made to treat those in need. This view was echoed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and now by Secretary Clinton. However, Secretary Clinton demurred from committing the US to lead this campaign instead resting on past achievements of previous administrations.
In a time of financial constraint and uncontrollable health care costs, AMSA calls on Secretary Clinton and President Obama to take the lead in embracing the opportunity to end one of the most expensive health epidemics the world has endured. Health officials at UNAIDS have shown that not only will investing in treatment avert more than 12 million new HIV infections by 2020, but the decrease in new infections will cause costs to fall by 2015. The start is putting 6 million patients on treatment by 2013.
Science and economics agree - the end of the epidemic is in sight, but only if in the tradition of Presidents Bush and Clinton our country reinforces our global leadership in funding HIV/AIDS. When President Obama speaks on December 1st for World AIDS Day, AMSA calls for him to commit to supporting the end of AIDS.